Three winning ideas for Australia as Falling Walls Lab goes digital

September 09, 2020

Watch the full livestream of Falling Walls Lab Australia 2020 above.


First place winner, Dr Jessica Hamilton. Photo: supplied
Second place winner, Mr Alan Robertson. Photo: supplied
Third place winner, Mr Andrew Law. Photo: supplied
People's Choice winner, Dr Dashen Dong. Photo: supplied

Environmental geochemist Dr Jessica Hamilton from ANSTO is the winner of the fifth Falling Walls Lab Australia event, hosted online yesterday by the Australian Academy of Science in partnership with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Canberra and EURAXESS Australia and New Zealand.

Second place was awarded to Alan Robertson from ClearSky Genomics, while Andrew Law from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research took third place.

The People's Choice winner selected via a survey of audience members was Dr Dashen Dong, Research Fellow at RMIT.

The event featured ten contestants from across Australia presenting their ideas, research and initiatives on the theme ‘Which walls will fall next?’.

Three-minute pitch

Each participant had three minutes to make their pitch in front of a jury of eminent academics and leaders from business chaired by the President of the Academy, Professor John Shine.

Dr Hamilton's winning pitch was on breaking the wall of recycling CO2 in mining. She has developed a relatively low-cost, low-energy-input process to make valuable products from mining wastes. This process could help lead to carbon-neutral mining operations.

Alan Robertson spoke about breaking the wall of genomics for doctors. His pitch was for a doctor/patient-focused genome browser, to help make genomics and its advantages accessible to all patients.

Andrew Law, third place winner, spoke on breaking the wall of ineffective cancer treatments. His pitch, a human-body analogue called ALTEN, helps doctors know in advance the effectiveness of cancer treatments, allowing for personalised healthcare and better outcomes for cancer patients.

People's Choice winner, Dr Dashen Dong, pitched an idea to break the wall of aged care monitoring using soft electronic sensors. This aims to improve the quality of life in aged care and reduce anxiety of families.

Winners to compete internationally

The top three ranked presenters of the Lab will each receive $1000 prize money, high-quality online science communication training led by European experts and provided by EURAXESS Researchers in Motion, and a professional video created by the Academy’s own production team.

The video will be shared with the influential audience of judges and participants of Falling Walls Berlin and on the Academy’s social media platforms which have more than 2.4 million followers.

These winners’ videos will then compete against 90 others selected by international Labs and the Falling Walls nomination process, and a panel of judges will decide on 10 finalists who will take part in the digital live event ‘Emerging Talents Category Day’ on 4 November as part of Falling Walls Remote 2020: The Breakthroughs of the Year.

The Emerging Talents winner will pitch their breakthrough project on the grand stage during the virtual live Falling Walls Day of 9 November in front of an audience of industry leaders, decision-makers, investors and international media.

Jury members

The event organising partners are grateful for the involvement of the jury members for Falling Walls Lab Australia:

  • Professor John Shine AC PresAA FRS—President, Australian Academy of Science
  • Mr Balbir Blassey—Head of Corporate R&D Operations, 3M Australia
  • Ms Kate Hart—Partner ANZ, A.T. Kearney Australia
  • Ms Rosie Hicks—Chief Executive Officer, Australian Research Data Commons
  • Ms Sue MacLeman—FAICD FATSE FACPP - Chair, MTPConnect
  • Professor Michael Schuetz—Director, Jamieson Trauma Institute
  • Dr Jack Steele—Director Science Impact and Policy, CSIRO.

Read the event program booklet (PDF).

The jury for Falling Walls Lab Australia 2020.

About Falling Walls Lab

Each year, the Falling Walls Foundation supports scientific organisations around the world to host a Falling Walls Lab. This international forum promotes interdisciplinary connections between aspiring academics, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and professionals known for their excellent work.

Falling Walls Lab is a challenging and inspiring format for emerging bright minds, giving them a unique chance to become the next big success story in innovation. In 2019, Australian researcher Rhys Pirie took out first place at the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin and was named 2019 Young Innovator of the Year. Read a follow-up interview with Mr Pyrie six months after winning the competition.

The Falling Walls Foundation is a non-profit organisation in Berlin dedicated to the support of science and the humanities. It was established in 2009, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. At its heart is the question ‘Which are the next walls to fall?’ as a result of scientific, technological, economic and sociological breakthroughs.

© 2020 Australian Academy of Science

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